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Train Examiners

A post of Train Examiner was identified at Ashchurch during most of the period, occupied by John Hanks in 1881, Henry Wells (1891 and 1901) and John Dorey (from 1906). In one document the holder was identified as railway wheel-tapper, thus the man who in the days of steam would be seen walking along the outside of the train tapping the carriage wheels with a long-handled mallet to check the integrity of wheels and axles. All three were men from Gloucestershire, though one went on to live and work in Yorkshire. The men do not appear in the Ashchurch staff lists of the railway's Coaching Department Department; they perhaps belong to Way and Works. The information here comes from censuses and other national and local records.

John Hanks was in Ashchurch for probably a short time around 1881. He was born in Horsley, Gloucestershire, in about 1852, his father a woollen weaver, He was still at home in 1871 with his widowed mother, a cloth worker. In 1874 he was in Gloucester to marry a local lady, he himself resident in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, a coal worker. He was in Ashchurch in 1881, a railway train examiner living in one of the railway cottages at Ashchurch station. Ten years later he had moved to Sheffield, still a train examiner. He died there in 1900 at the age of 48.

Henry Wells was in Ashchurch for a decade or more at the end of the nineteenth century. He was born in Gloucester in 1862 and was at home there with his widowed mother in 1871. He married in Gloucester in 1885, when he is described as a railway wheel-tapper, his [deceased] father John a railway porter. By 1891 he was living in Ashchurch and was still there ten years later, on both occasions a train examiner. He died in Gloucester in 1909 at the age of 47. He was presumably still working on the railway as this was the occupation shown on his daughter's marriage certificate in Gloucester the following year.

John Dorey came to Ashchurch in about 1906 and remained there, at Aston on Carrant, until his death in 1957. He was born and baptised in Gloucester in 1875, son of an engine fitter. In 1891, at the age of 16 he was working as a warehouse boy but ten years later he had followed his father into the railways and was a carriage inspector at Gloucester, working for the Great West Railway. When in 1906 he married in Stonehouse, the home of his bride, he was living in Ashchurch, and from at least 1908 in Aston-on-Carrant there. In 1911 he was working as a train examiner presumably at Ashchurch and thus now for the Midland Railway. He would remain in Aston until the 1950s and perhaps until his death in 1957, though there is no information on post-war employment or when he retired from work on the railway. He died in 1957 at the age of 82.


This data has been researched and produced by Brian Harringman. Comments, additions, and especially corrections would be gratefully received.